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A Lexicographical Perspective to Intentional and Incidental Learning: Approaching an Old Question from a New Technological Angle

Aktivitet: Tale eller præsentation - typerForedrag og mundtlige bidrag

Se relationer på Aarhus Universitet

Sven Tarp - Foredragsholder

L2 learning is a complex process that combines text reception (reading, listening) and text production (writing, talking). The process can be intentional and incidental. Varying definitions of these concepts can be found in the academic literature, especially in connection with reading. While it may be not too difficult to define each of them in their pure form, there seems to be a relatively big grey zone where elements of the two concepts are mixed. The paper explores this grey zone from a lexicographical perspective, adapting the two concepts in terms of written texts. Incidental learning is here related to the process where learners maintain the reading or writing flow without losing focus on the text and its content. By contrast, intentional learning only starts when they interrupt the reading or writing process in order to dedicate time to a deeper study of words, senses, or grammatical structures appearing in the text.
With this understanding, the paper will focus on digital dictionaries integrated into e-readers, learning apps, and writing assistants, both existing ones and those to come. It will argue that this integration, so far, has not been particularly successful due to negative factors like conservative thinking, inadequate adaptation to different types of user needs, imperfect lexicographical databases, and poor design of user interfaces. As an alternative, the paper will provide examples of how lexicographical data could be filtered and presented in pop-up windows so that they serve both incidental and intentional learning. The former requires instantaneous, contextualized, and discreet assistance with an absolute minimum of lexicographical data, whereas the latter presupposes easy access to relevant additional data.
The paper will then argue that the techniques and technologies required to guarantee this approach are already available to a large extent, albeit insufficiently applied to lexicography. They include both artificial and human-assisted intelligence as well as cutting-edge programming. If fully integrated into lexicography they would, at their current stage of development, allow automatic detection of extended units of meaning, determination of the concrete meaning of words occurring in a context (with up to 90% probability), and prioritization of the most likely L2 equivalents. As such, they herald a major technological breakthrough within lexicography with the advent of context-aware dictionaries, i.e. a special type of intelligent dictionaries.
Finally, and to avoid exaggerated optimism, the paper will rub salt in the wound and argue that the creation and quality of future context-aware dictionaries do not only depend on the successful application of cutting-edge technologies. It also requires that lexicographers reconsider part of their discipline. This implies, among other things, that they improve the design of lexicographical databases and the user interfaces that present the relevant data to the target users.
23 jun. 2021

Ekstern organisation (Universitet)

NavnSchool of Foreign Languages. Huanzhong Agricultural University

ID: 218726875